How Families Can Bring Health Insurance Reforms

The doctors and medical institutions of America are a cause of grudging admiration across the world. The expertise level and the speed of development in U.S. health care can hardly to be seen anywhere. However, there is a general worry looming across many Americans about whether they would get the much-needed medical care when they really need it.

The main reason behind this situation is that the health insurance system in America is not working properly. Many Americans do not have insurance coverage for themselves. The coverage in health insurance is fraught with gaps while the costs rise at a shocking level.

A section of politicians wants that the entire health care system be controlled by the government. However, many citizens find that solution hard to accept. Another section of politicians finds it okay to maintain status quo.

The conservative view on this issue is to bring in serious reforms in the present tax and insurance laws which would help the personal ownership to expand and control the insurance sector, resulting in the transfer of control of health care dollars to individuals and families. This goal could be achieved by the citizens on becoming informed about the right policy that should be bought to increase their personal freedom.

Freedom of Choice

The operation of American businesses resembles closely to that of a free market. In this system, consumers have the freedom to select goods and services. This gives consumers to have the final say about the success and failure of sectors like cars, music, financial services, fashion and restaurants along with a host of other areas of insurance like auto, homeowners and life insurance. However in reality, this fundamental principal is missing from the health insurance market. This could be understood from the following:

Limited Choice

The private health insurance system of America is not driven by the decision of consumers which is the main force behind the free market forces. After World War II, the Congress brought in tax code changes that bonded accessibility of health insurance of a patient to their employer. However in the present legal system, it is the employer who buys the health plan of the worker and determines how the plan should cover and also the cost. Hence, it is the employer who makes the key decision and not the patients.

Portability of Coverage Not Present

The current system makes the workers to pay for their health insurance policy, which is actually his compensation part. But on changing his/her jobs, the worker is unable to take their policies with them, as the owner of it is the employer. Again, a worker finds it difficult to purchase a policy from outside as that may cost up to fifty percent higher compared to that offered through an employer. As there are no tax benefits available with individual health insurance, the cost of policies are beyond the reach of many people.

Problems of Conscience

There are some patients who find the terms and conditions in their packages unacceptable due to moral or religious reasons. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2003 found that 46 percent of workers with health insurance provided by the employer are also using their premiums to pay for abortions. If a worker finds this objectionable, they are unable to change it as they do not have any choice about their employer’s policy. They have to receive what is given to them by their employer.

Steps to Expand Choice

To expand personal choice and portability in health care coverage, congress should consider bringing in the following steps:

• The tax benefit that is available for purchasing through an employer should be made available while buying individual health insurance from outside through the creation of a federal health care tax credit.

• No tax or regulatory penalty should be imposed on people as they keep their own health insurance which they can keep with themselves, without considering where they work. This will result in individuals and families to continue their coverage at their next job, without the need to change their health care policy. The coverage would then become portable.

• Free the purchase of insurance policies that is sold in another state of statutory prohibitions and tax or regulatory penalties.

States Role to Expand Choice

To expand personal choice and portability of coverage within the state, the following options should be considered by the states. There are some states where these goals are already being followed.

Create Exchange: The Congress needs to bring in changes in the tax laws regarding health insurance at the federal level and also provide direct and individual tax relief for both individuals and families so that real consumer has the choice to make changes in the markets.

Review and Revoke State mandates: State mandates make it obligatory for the insurance policies to give coverage to specific benefits or medical services. Officials of the state should identify and revoke costly, unnecessary, outdated or ethically intolerable benefits and mandates.

Role of Individuals and Families

Every citizen should be informed enough so that they can bring in the necessary changes to the present situation. To learn about one’s insurance situation, the following means should be followed:

• Workers should make it clear from their employer whether the plan they have bought require them to pay for such services like abortions which they object to.

• Citizens should know who are the persons that make these regulations about insurance and also the way these regulations affect patients and the premiums on health plan.

• Every individual and families should be cognizant about the different insurance mandates of their state. The objectionable mandates they find can be asked to be removed.

Conclusion

Individuals and families should be given enough freedom to select their health care policy which they trust. This freedom of choice given for the private health insurance system can be restored by policymakers at the federal and state level through different options. Citizens must be better informed and pressurize lawmakers to remove such policies and regulations which limit their personal choice.

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